Las Vegas Sun

July 30, 2014

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May visitor statistics down but not out

After Thursday's news of double-digit declines in gambling revenue in Las Vegas, the latest tourism statistics from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority seem anticlimactic. Or, in other words, like more of the same.

Midweek and weekend room rates across town continue to fall, dropping 6 percent in May from the same month last year. The coming months will be more illuminating as lower room rates this year can be compared with rates during the typically slower summer months.

Visitor volume was up less than one percent in May and is flat so far this year versus the same period last year, in line with what some Strip executives have predicted.

Airline traffic through McCarran International Airport was down 5 percent in May and is down 2 percent this year, ­ an obvious result of higher fees and tightening consumer budgets.

The convention business has been more difficult to handicap. Some shows have reported significant declines in attendance while others are projecting increases or at least as many delegates as last year in spite of the economic slowdown. The visitors authority reports that convention attendance was up a percentage point in May, with overall attendance flat so far this year.

Darker clouds may be on the horizon.

Room nights occupied by convention-goers were down by 9 percent in May and have fallen 10 percent so far this year, ­ a notable decline likely driven by attendees who are cutting their stays short, said Kris Tibbs, the visitors authority's senior research analyst.

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